Business confidence in Asia edges up as global outlook improves
HONG KONG, 7th February 2017 – YPO, the premier chief executive leadership organisation in the world, reported today that confidence among business leaders in Asia was up 1.2 points in the final quarter of 2016. The YPO Global Pulse Confidence Index for Asia climbed to 61.2, following moderate GDP growth in most of the region’s major economies.
Business leaders in Asia reported a more cautious outlook than their counterparts in the United States but were more optimistic than chief executives in the European Union (EU). For the first time since October 2015, Asia lagged behind the YPO Global Pulse composite score, which reflected an upswing in confidence to an optimistic 62.2.
There were significant differences in sentiment within each market across the region, although the major economies remained relatively steady in their economic outlook. Confidence among business leaders in China remained stable at 61.3, compared to 61.4 in the third quarter. While India reported a 3.2-point drop in confidence to 62.8, it still remains the most confident of Asia’s economic powerhouses.
Economic confidence in Japan rose 3.2 points to 58.3 in the final quarter of 2016, its second consecutive increase, following the depreciation of the yen and the government’s monetary policy.
The emerging economies across Asia reported greater fluctuation in economic sentiment. During the third quarter of 2016, the economic outlook among the ASEAN countries had slumped to its lowest level in the seven-year history of the YPO Global Pulse but bounced back in the final quarter, surging 9.4 points to end 2016 at 62.0, its highest level since April 2015. Most notably, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam all saw marked improvements in economic sentiment.
“It’s encouraging to see that the outlook is still firmly optimistic in each of the major markets and that confidence has quickly returned to most of the developing economies in the region. Clearly there will be some concerns about the potential impact of a more protectionist U.S. economic policy on global trade and a strong U.S. dollar, and chief executives in Asia will be monitoring the situation carefully over the coming months,” said Patrick Siewert, Managing Director, The Carlyle Group, and YPO Regional Chair of North Asia. “For the most part, the signs are encouraging for economies across Asia in 2017, and business leaders will be keen to take advantage of the current favourable economic conditions.”
Globally, the YPO Global Pulse Index for the fourth quarter of 2016 climbed 3.0 points to 62.2, its highest level for two years. The United States reported the highest levels of confidence in the world, increasing by 4.2 points to 64.6, its highest level since January 2015. Confidence in the EU remained steady, edging up to an optimistic 60.9 score. Elsewhere, confidence in Latin America increased by 2.4 points to 58.3, while confidence in the Middle East and North Africa jumped 5.6 points to 59.5. Africa reported a 0.8-point decline, landing at 54.7, making it the second-least confident region in the world after non-EU Europe, where confidence increased 2.5 points to 54.3.
Key findings in Asia
Chief executives expecting to increase revenues, hiring and fixed investment
In Asia, the three key indicators in the YPO Global Pulse Index, sales, hiring and fixed investment, all increased in the final quarter of 2016.
The YPO Sales Index for Asia edged up 0.4 point to 66.9, the YPO Employment Index rose 1.3 points to 56.8, and the YPO Fixed Investment Index jumped 2.6 points to 64.2.
Two-thirds of chief executives (65%) expected to increase sales in the next year, versus only 7% who expected a decline in revenues. Similarly, more than a third (35%) expected to increase headcount in the coming 12 months, while 10% predicted a reduction in staff numbers. Finally, more than half (53%) expected to increase fixed investment in the coming year, with only 5% predicting reduced investment.
Confidence surges within ASEAN economies. The YPO Global Pulse Index for ASEAN countries — Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Myanmar (Burma), Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam — rebounded in the fourth quarter, rising 9.4 points to 62.0.
The YPO Global Pulse Index for Australasia rose 2.4 points to 63.0 in the final quarter of 2016, its highest level since October 2013.
Chief executives in Australasia were bullish about the outlook for their own organisations. The YPO Sales Index for Australasia soared 5.0 points to 72.7, its highest level in the seven-year history of the survey. Almost three-quarters (72%) of business leaders in the region expected to increase their turnover in the next 12 months, versus only 2% who predicted a decline in revenues. This is a significant improvement on the previous quarter when 57% of chief executives predicted an increase in sales and 9% predicted a decline.
Business leaders were generally optimistic about the likely economic and business climate for the first half of 2017. Nearly half (47%) forecast that business and economic conditions would improve over the next six months, while only 18% expected the economic landscape to deteriorate.
YPO Global Pulse Confidence Index
The quarterly electronic survey, conducted in the first two weeks of January 2017, gathered answers from 1,514 YPO chief executive officers across the globe, including 189 in Asia and 60 in Australasia. Visit http://www.ypo.org/globalpulse/ for more information about the survey methodology and results from around the world.
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